I’m pretty sure that one of my teachers somewhere between kindergarten and college told me that there is no such thing as a stupid question. When I became a teacher myself, I tried to adopt this philosophy, but it turns out that stupid questions are alive and well.
If my stint in the classroom left me with any doubts, becoming a military spouse gave me a big fat affirmative on the existence of stupid questions. It’s not that the individuals asking these questions are trying to be mean; most often they are just misinformed because they haven’t experienced many of the things that are second nature to us as military spouses.
Maybe you’ve had one (or all) of these questions or (unsolicited) comments hurled at you, or maybe you’ve just heard rumors that they exist. Either way, one thing is for sure, any one of these 10 questions or comments is cause enough for an eye roll that could rival that of a moody teenager followed by the classic, “Don’t get me started.”
- My spouse has been gone all weekend; I really miss him/her. Sorry, but “missing” your spouse for 48 hours when you are still in the same time zone and can call each other anytime is not even in the same ballpark as enduring a deployment of anything from a month to a year. It’s OK though; we’re tough enough to handle it, and that’s something we’re pretty proud of!
- Why doesn’t your spouse just get out? Now there’s a loaded question! Maybe because there is a lot to think about when it comes to contracts, promotion timelines, retirement pay, benefits, the civilian job market and the whole volunteering to serve the country thing. The military is a job, yes, but it means a lot more to the men and women in uniform.
- That’s so exciting that you’re moving again! If only you knew how exciting. Have you ever counted how many military bases are plopped right in the middle of vacation hot spots? You’ll probably only need one hand to count that high. While moving is what you make it, and every installation has the potential to feel like home, it’s tough readjusting, making new friends and possibly moving farther away from family.
- I don’t know how you do it! We do it because our family counts on us. We just happened to fall in love with a man or woman in uniform, and this is just part of the deal. When you love someone, you do what you have to do. We make it work because it’s worth it to us.
- The military is to blame…Just hold it right there! It doesn’t matter what the last half of this sentence is; it’s going to be bad. No matter what someone’s political views are, he or she should understand that our husbands and wives are doing their job. Violence and danger don’t exist because we have a military, quite the opposite; violence and danger are why we need a military. Our men and women in uniform are the only things keeping that danger out of our own backyards. So blaming the military for doing a job they were ordered to do is no different than blaming doctors for the existence of the flu.
- What if…your spouse gets injured, doesn’t come home from deployment or misses the birth of your child? There is really no way that a “what if” question is going to have a happy ending. We face every day with all of the positivity we can muster, and drawing attention to the worst case scenario isn’t helpful for anyone.
- I’m so busy, tired and overworked. If your spouse is deployed, you’re handling the kids, the pets, the house, your job and everything that broke the first week of deployment, so you have every right to feel however you want! If you’re in the middle of a deployment and someone with a typical case of the Mondays says this to you, you have every right to laugh…hard…at them (not with them).
- Why do/don’t you have a job? There is no such thing as the “military spouse type.” We are all different. We have different career goals, backgrounds and priorities. Some of us choose to work because we want to; some of us work because we have to. And some of us don’t work because job markets in the area are slim pickings, we’re there for a short time or we simply put other priorities ahead of a career. Whatever we decide is right for us and our family is our business.
- At least your spouse isn’t deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. If you’ve turned on the news lately, you know that danger isn’t isolated to two countries in the Middle East. The dangers our spouses face during a deployment are only half of our burden though. Whether our spouses are away for training on the other side of the country or they’re on the front lines, we are still juggling everything at home; it’s never a vacation for us or our spouses who have to be away from us.
- You’re lucky! The government pays for everything. There’s more attention to this topic now than there ever has been in recent memory. Let’s just clear that up. Nobody pays for “everything.” Our spouses get a salary and a housing allowance. It’s up to us to budget that money no matter where we are in the world. We pay bills just like everyone else. Money can be tight at times just like everyone else. And any benefit that the “government pays for” is well-deserved. Anyone complaining that military families receive too much is welcome to sign up and join the luxurious lifestyle!